Service Connection

Last Updated on December 5, 2023 by Arnav Sharma

Service principals play a pivotal role in Microsoft Entra ID and Azure Active Directory, allowing applications to read and interact with Azure resources under a controlled security identity. These principles are fundamental in how one service, either a single-tenant application or multi-tenant environment, can operate efficiently. When a managed identity is created in Azure, a corresponding service principal is also established in each tenant, representing the specific application’s security identity. This mechanism ensures that Azure users can safely access and manage resources within their tenant or directory. The application, utilizing the service principal, operates under the context of a specific user from that tenant, performing only the actions it is authorized to do. This not only leads to enhanced security but also allows administrators to effectively monitor and manage their applications, thereby safeguarding the integrity and security of their Azure environment.

Steps to create a Service Principal: 

Go to Azure and register a new app as shown:

After registration, create a secret:

From Azure copy:

Client ID:

Tenant ID:

Subscription ID – From Azure Portal.

Value of Secret:

The above values can be used in Application, DevOps etc

Role Assignment: 

FAQ: Service Principals in Microsoft Entra ID

Q: What are Azure Resources and how do they relate to Azure Service Principals?

A: Azure resources refer to the various services and capabilities provided by Microsoft, such as virtual machines, databases, and storage accounts, which a service account can use. Service principals in Microsoft Entra ID are security identities used by applications or services to access specific Azure resources. They are crucial for automation and for applications that need to access resources in Azure without a user account.

Q: How do Application object and Service Principal work together in Azure?

A: In Azure, an application object and a service principal work together to provide an identity for applications. The application object is used and references the globally unique identifier, while the service principal is the local representation of the application within Azure, used for accessing resources.

Q: Can you explain the role of Microsoft Graph in managing Azure identities?

A: Microsoft Graph, as explained in Microsoft Learn, plays a critical part in identity and access management within Azure. It allows for the configuration and management of Azure resources, including the creation and use of service principals. Using Microsoft Graph, administrators can automate tasks and manage security identities more effectively.

Q: What are Managed Identities in Azure and their significance?

A: Managed identities in Azure provide an identity that can be used by applications or services to access Azure resources. This feature automates the management of credentials, reducing the risk of security vulnerabilities associated with manually managed credentials.

Q: How do you create an Azure Service Principal using the Azure CLI?

A: To create an Azure service principal using the Azure CLI, you can use the following command: az ad sp create-for-rbac. This command creates a new service principal and assigns it the necessary roles and permissions to access your resources.

Q: What are the steps to navigate to the Azure Portal for service principal creation?

A: To create a service principal in Azure, navigate to the Azure portal, then go to the App registrations section in Azure Active Directory. Here, you can create a new application registration which automatically creates an associated service principal.

Q: How do Service Principals and Managed Identities differ in Azure?

A: The difference between Azure service principals and managed identities lies in their management and use. Service principals are explicitly created and managed by users for applications to use specific Azure resources, while managed identities are automatically managed by Azure and provide a more seamless and secure authentication method for accessing Azure resources.

Q: What are the steps to use an Azure Service Principal for authentication?

A: To use an Azure service principal for authentication, you first create the service principal, then you obtain the client ID and client secret. These credentials are then used in your applications or automation tools to access specific Azure resources

Q: What is the purpose of a Client Secret in Azure Service Principal Authentication?

A: A client secret is a key element in Azure service principal authentication. It acts as a password that the application uses, along with the client ID, to authenticate and gain access to Azure resources. This is typically used when the application is authorized to access the resources without a user’s direct intervention.

Q: How do you assign a Permission / Role to a Service Principal in Azure?

A: To assign a role to a service principal in Azure, you first create the service principal and then assign it the necessary roles and permissions. This is done within Azure Active Directory or through Azure CLI, ensuring the service principal has the required access to perform its intended tasks.

Q: Can you explain the concept of a Tenant ID in Azure and its relevance to Service Principals?

A: A tenant ID in Azure refers to the unique identifier of the Azure Active Directory instance in which the service principal is registered. It is crucial for identifying the directory (tenant) where the application is used and for configuring multi-tenant applications. The service principal relies on the tenant ID to access resources and represent the application’s security identity in that specific directory.

Q: What is the significance of using Service Principals with Managed Identities in Azure?

A: Using service principals with managed identities in Azure enhances the security and management of access to Azure resources. Managed identities automate the credential management process, reducing the need for manual handling of service principals’ credentials like client secrets, thus minimizing security risks.

Q: How does Azure AD differ from Azure Service Principal in terms of identity management?

A: Azure Active Directory (AD) is a comprehensive identity and access management cloud solution, while an Azure service principal is a specific type of security identity within Azure AD used by applications or services to access Azure resources. Azure AD provides broader identity management capabilities, including user management, while a service principal is more focused on providing application access to Azure resources.

Q: What are the benefits of using PowerShell or Azure CLI for managing Azure Service Principals?

A: Using PowerShell or Azure CLI for managing Azure service principals offers automation, flexibility, and efficiency. These tools allow administrators to script and automate various tasks related to service principals, such as creation, role assignment, and management, making it easier to handle complex or repetitive tasks in Azure identity and access management.

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